JOHN McEntee was the star of Crossmaglen and Armagh’s bid for glory with his playmaking and scoring exploits from centre forward. He takes us back through some of the memorable games from a glittering career.
Teams played for: Crossmaglen Rangers, Armagh, University of Ulster and Ulster.
Current involvement: The u-8 girls’ team in Crossmaglen.
Which club game, that you played in, will you never forget and why?
It would be our All-Ireland Club final against Na Fianna in 2000. They were the Dublin kingpins with every player having inter-county experience across maybe three or four counties. We came into the game having played outrageous football against UCC and there was an expectation that we had peaked. We lost our talisman Jim McConville early to injury, but we were so hot on the day that Na Fianna played second fiddle all day.
Which club game, that you watched, will you never forget and why?
As manager of my own club, I watched us defeat a really strong Scotstown team in the 2015 Ulster final. We knew how strong they were, with players such as Kieran and Darren Hughes and Donal Morgan. On the day, they played to their full potential, but we played so well on the day that we pipped them. It was one of those occasions where both teams were brilliant yet we managed to shave it
. Which county game, that you played in, will you never forget and why?
I don’t have a great memory for this kind of stuff, but I guess it would be Armagh’s All-Ireland semi-final of 2002 against Dublin. It’s rare that an Armagh team beats the Dubs in their own back yard to claim a place in the All-Ireland final.
Which county game, that you watched, will you never forget and why?
The Down v Derry championship game of 1994. The physicality, aggression, bravery and will to win was unparalleled. Wee James (McCartan) was immense within a forward line that was perhaps the best of the 90’s.
What was the funniest thing you ever saw in a game?
It was an Armagh game against Galway up in Cross. The helicopter came in to land in the barracks adjacent to the pitch. The Galway lads stopped to look at the helicopter whilst we played on and scored a point.
What was the strangest thing you ever saw in a game?
Cathal Short scored a goal against Bellaghy in 1996 Ulster final which ricocheted off at least six people before it crossed the line. To this day, I’ve no idea how it was scored…I can still see it in slow motion.
What was the most memorable performance from a player in a game that you watched?
There has been so many. Maybe Ja Fallon for Galway in their second All-Ireland final or Peter Canavan in the 1995 All-Ireland final against Dublin.
What was the most memorable performance from a player in a game that you played?
I can’t remember the year, but Gareth Doherty from Bellaghy played in the same University of Ulster team. For his stature, he was trimmer back then; he was pound for pound the best player season.
What did you love about the games you played in?
I loved the style of the Cross and Armagh teams and our ability to win our own ball and I loved being part of a team who had an insatiable desire to win every game.
What did you hate about the games you played in?